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Bribery Act: Don’t Mock Small Beginnings

News has come of the first prosecution under the U.K. Bribery Act. We might have expected something involving millions of pounds, international middlemen, front companies, and exotic locations. Well, not quite, at least not yet.

The first charge under the Act is against a court clerk in a London suburb, who’s alleged to have requested £500 to influence a motoring case. Munir Yakub Patel, of Redbridge Magistrates Court, was charged under section 2 of the Bribery Act, and faces other charges of misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice. The press release from the Crown Prosecution Service is here.
 
I suppose the charges (and the recent allegations of corruption involving Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers) show that bribery allegations are as much a fact of life domestically as internationally.

However mundane the circumstances, it is essential that the Bribery Act is properly enforced at home as well as abroad.

A domestic prosecution of an individual also carries with it a greater likelihood of a not-guilty plea and thus perhaps some judicial authority as to the interpretation of the Act, as least the general receiving offences under section  2.

We shall have to wait a bit longer before a court tackles the intricacies of the foreign public official or failure to prevent offences.   

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Eoin O’Shea is a partner and Head of the Anti-Corruption Group at Lawrence Graham LLP. His book The Bribery Act 2010: A Practical Guide was published on 29 June 2011 by Jordan Publishing. He can be contacted here.

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